Tuesday, September 7, 2010

"If you love what you do, is it 'work'?"

For a few years now I have been posing this question to all our new students: "If you love what you do, is it 'work'?" And I have been giving them my own example: I get to do what I love — at Commits, at home, even at the gym — because I love what I do. And I try to enthuse Commitscions into feeling the same way about their assignments, their projects, their "work".

However, I guess I am not very articulate on the subject (my wife says I am the worst "communicator" she has met), so I think I have had mixed results trying to convince our students to think like I do. That is why I was so gratified when I read this feature by H.K. Shivdasani in the DNA of September 1 (Page 7): "Work-life balance is humbug".

This is the gist of the article: "If your work is your passion then you won't find the need to strike a work-life balance because you'll enjoy every moment of it."

You took the words out of my mouth, Mr Shivdasani, and I can't tell you how grateful I am.

Here are some excerpts that will, I think, inspire others to believe in our credo:

Melody queen Lata Mangeshkar would practise for hours as a teenager, and she has continued to enjoy her mammoth practice sessions every single day of her life. Sachin Tendulkar, even as a school kid, loved batting practice, hitting balls against a wall well past midnight.

Think of Zakir Hussain, Bismillah Khan, Michael Jackson, or an Olympic winner of your choice. All of them have one thing in common: they never had 'working hours'. And that's because they enjoyed their work so much that no other activity was as much 'fun'. They never knew or needed to practise 'work-life balance'.

And here are other relevant excerpts:

I had said that I'd offer one formula to achieve all different life goals. We discussed success. But what about happiness?

Well, success and happiness go together. Is happiness different from doing something that's fun, gives you joy, and satisfies your needs?

What about someone who wants to give something back to society? You can only give what you have in abundance, and in the field in which you are a master — to give, you must first achieve a lot.

Please read the full article and see how you can apply these principles to your life.
  • Shagorika Easwar, editor of Desi News and CanadaBound Immigrant, comments: I couldn't agree more. That is what we have also always told our children. To find a career in a field they are passionate about, not one that is 'in' or 'hot' or because it pays the most. That because we so love what we do, it's not like work at all.

    It's not a grind when you work long hours or without a break. Take today, for instance. I'd started out thinking I'd catch up on some reading (Arrival City by Doug Saunders) and watch Peepli Live and take an afternoon nap. Well, guess what. A man from Kolkata who is cycling around the world and was supposed to get into town next week got in a few days early — today. Since he is here only for a day-and-a-half, there went my lazy Saturday.

    But I had such fun talking to him that it didn't seem like work. 
  • Here's a telling quote from music composer Gurukiran in a chat with ad guru and film-maker R. Balki in the October 24 issue of DNA (After Hrs): "I love music and my work. So, in that sense, my work is my biggest time pass. If you are to ask me, if you're doing what you love, then there is no reason for you to look outside work for recreation."
  • And here's Vinita Bali, CEO and MD of Britannia Industries, echoing the sentiments expressed by H.K. Shivdasani in DNA. "Somehow people who talk of this [work-life] balance make work sound like something you have to do," Bali writes in the November 19 issue of Forbes India in an article headlined People make too much of work-life balance. "There are aspects of work I may not enjoy or like. But by and large I like what I do, I like working, I like the stuff we do. It also enables me to enjoy what people call 'not work'."
  • "Love what you do to stay motivated" is also the credo of Richard Branson, the founder of the Virgin Group. Read his Mint column on motivation here.
UPDATE (May 2, 2013): I have just discovered on LinkedIn this lovely post by Dharmesh Shah, founder and CTO at HubSpot, a marketing software company based in the U.S.: "14 Telling Signs You Love Your Job".


  1. I think if you are paid for something - it becomes work, irrespective of whether you enjoy it or not.
    What say RP sir? :)
    - Sushma Shankar

  2. I have been earning a "salary" since I was 23 years old, Sushma. I have also been enjoying "work" ever since. What does that tell you?

  3. I definitely believe that you cannot excel if you do not love what you are doing...professionally or otherwise !!! Thanks a lot Sir, for sharing this article.

  4. Sir I agree with it because I have always believed this even in the case of studies not just work. I guess you remember how I didn't really like working on bulletin and had a great time when we made the documentary!:D I did learn a lot while working on it though. I also feel some people don't think about what they like and just go with the flow and later discover that they actually enjoy their work.

  5. This article was not very complicated but very interesting. Now my school projects will be a bit more fun. I'll cut pictures in a stylish way as I always want my things to be different from others even if their things are better. I've understood 1 'should know' lesson today.

  6. Make no mistake about it. I love my work (40 years and going strong). With the passing years I've been enjoying it more and working less and look forward to the start of a work day.Because work, for me, is a passion. But I don't let it run my life. I can get off the work bandwagon and chill out with family, friends, books (my favourite stress buster and horizon stretcher) a chotta peg, and a film when I want to and get on to it again.
    It's not the work that drains me. It's the petty politics, the constant cribbing, back-stabbing, gossiping et al that gets my goat. I know this comes with the territory and as you climb the career ladder it only gets worse. No wonder they say it's lonely at the top. But you know what, I love the lonliness. It helps me manage life better and gives me a better perspective on how to get the best out of it.
    You can't love work if are not passionate about it. Find your passion and you will find life.


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